Fire chief says nearly 8,000 buildings inspected last year
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), Stewart Beckford, says that the brigade inspected 7,795 buildings last year.
Speaking at a press conference hosted by Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, at his ministry, on Thursday, the commissioner said that through the JFB’s Community and Life Safety Programme, they inspected the 7,795 buildings, a 16 per cent increase over the 6,718 buildings inspected in 2021.
He said that 2,579 hydrants were also inspected, 1,056 serviced and 352 repaired. However, with the severe drought conditions that currently exist, the brigade has experienced challenges in accessing water from hydrants to fight fires.
“As you are aware, the Meteorological Service has announced that the current dry climatic conditions are not expected to improve in any significant way before May, with various parishes being classified as moderately, severely or exceptionally dry, based on the Dryness index,” he explained.
“The collection and transportation of water to combat fires will become even more challenging, and this has implications for response times and the length of cooling down operations,” he added.
Commissioner Beckford also noted that the JFB estimates that properties across Jamaica, valued at approximately $334.9 billion, are at risk from fire. He said that while the JFB continues the work of preventing and responding to fires. There is also an individual and societal responsibility to stave off personal and community loss and tragedy.
The commissioner said that it was against this background that the brigade is calling for the cooperation of citizens, to preserve their own interests- their houses, their business, their properties- by stopping habits that they know can cause fires.
“Through our continuing outreach efforts, I can tell you that our people know the right things. I am therefore urging them to do the right things, so that fire safety becomes a personal reality,” he stated.
During the press conference, Beckford also revealed that there were more than 1,300 bushfires for the month of February this year, which is a 95 per cent increase over the 665 that occurred in January.
For February, St Catherine and Kingston and St Andrew recorded the highest number of bushfire incidents -270 and 180, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, Portland had 18 bushfires for the month. In almost every instance, the bushfires were caused by human actions.
– Balford Henry